The emergence of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns has had a significant impact on rising domestic violence levels within New Zealand.
With families’ movements restricted and tensions rising due to confinement, uncertainty and economic pressure, the first week of lockdown saw calls to police rise 22% on the week prior (1).
Financial duress has a direct impact on how well families cope - an impact that flows on to domestic violence. Minority communities that rely on minimum wage zero hours contracts have been hit particularly hard. Even today, up to 80% of incidents involving intimate partner violence are not reported (2).
It is the most vulnerable and at risk in our society who often find it the hardest to report domestic abuse, family violence and other crimes. One in seven New Zealand children will grow up in a home that experiences violence regularly (3).
Crime Stoppers offers a way for people to report crime and violence while retaining anonymity. For many at risk individuals, that offers a degree of safety that allows them to speak out.
Crime Stoppers has seen a similar rise in reporting, with many calls focussed on domestic violence.
“We saw a rise in reports of over 10% during the lockdown period,” says Crime Stoppers Chair Allan Freeth. "The anonymity that Crime Stoppers offers provides safety and peace of mind for people who may be otherwise fearful of repercussions if they report something.”
Family violence and crime is a key focus of the government. As a nation, we have the worst rates of domestic and intimate partner violence in the OECD. One of the key drivers from the Ministry of Social Development is providing a whānau based approach that prioritises safety.
“We are an important link in the chain,” says Freeth, “If the violence is not being reported then government agencies can’t help. This year we have been focussed on rolling out a more accessible online and mobile-friendly platform, which in turn helps people to alert the police or other agencies to what is happening in their community.”
Crime Stoppers makes it easier for individuals to report incidents they are involved in or observe.
“We are an independent charity, governed by a board,” says Freeth, “Our state of the art technology, allows us to guarantee anonymity.”
Once a crime has been reported, support systems can be initiated. Crime Stoppers is working to actively break down the barrier of silence. The relaunched website and updated online platform will reach more people and play a part in stemming the tide of crime.
*If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence or crime, don’t stay silent. Report online to Crime Stoppers online or by calling 0800 555 111.
Crime Stoppers is an independent charity that helps New Zealanders prevent crime by providing an anonymous, independant and simple way to pass on information via phone and online, 24/7, 365 days a year. Launched in 2009, Crime Stoppers has helped more than one million people in New Zealand.
(2) New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey: 2014 (2015)